Lovers Lane
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Media: February 2021

| January 31, 2021

Danny Bonaduce

Former Partridge Family star Danny Bonaduce had an extremely memorable run on Chicago radio during the mid-90s. Still, since his time here, Danny has done radio in Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and now for the last decade, he’s been the morning man in Seattle at KZOK (102.5FM).

“I think this is my longest run at any one place,” he says. “I really do like it here. They have a thing called the Seattle Freeze. Nobody is really over the top friendly, but you’ll be walking at an intersection, and the light will be red, and even if there are no cars coming from any direction, everybody still waits for the light to turn. That’s Seattle.”

He may really like Seattle, but Chicago is still very special to him too. After all…

“I still have the Loop (WLUP) Logo and (Loop GM) Mr. Wert’s name tattooed on my butt,” explains Bonaduce.

That sentence perfectly encapsulates the mayhem of Danny’s time in Chicago.

“The Loop is really the place that started it all for me,” he says. “I’ve really had to scale it back since then. I was so crazy. I remember doing a broadcast with (Loop Morning Man Jonathon) Brandmeier at some bar or something, and people kept coming up and giving me drugs all night. Brandmeier looked at me, and said ‘Are you going to die?’ And I said, ‘Not tonight!’”

Brandmeier was instrumental in bringing Danny back into the spotlight, and that’s what eventually launched his radio career. Once Danny got his own show on the Loop, he did almost all of the time slots at one time or another. Brandmeier also provided one of the most memorable moments.

“One of my all-time favorite stories,” Danny says, revving up with his trademark smoky enthusiasm. “I used to do a bit called “CAR-ioke.” I used to get in my car at the top of an 8-story spiral parking ramp, and I would go as fast as I could down this spiral, and if you didn’t scream, you won. Nobody won. Everybody screamed. Brandmeier called me up and said that he could do it. I said, OK, let me see you try. So we’re holding a mic, and I’m going down the ramp fast, but not fast enough to make him scream. And he was under the impression he was going to win, but when we made the last turn, there was a lady with a baby carriage, and I ran over the baby carriage. And Brandmeier screamed like a little girl.”

Danny cackled at the memory. “Of course, the lady was my wife, and the baby was a doll, and it was a set-up!”

If that sounds like a different time in radio, you would be correct. Danny was working at a radio station that essentially had no rules.

“You gotta remember,” he explains. “It was my first real radio gig, and I wasn’t getting fired for my behavior. I was getting promoted. One day I fell asleep at the control board, and there was dead air, nothing coming out of the speakers, and they sent an ambulance for me, and I thought, ‘That’s it. I’m getting fired now.’ And (Loop boss) Larry Wert said, ‘I’ve never seen anyone pass out from drugs on the radio before. Try not to do that again.’ And that was it.”

When people remind Bonaduce about his time in Chicago radio, they are most likely to bring up one big event: his boxing match with Donny Osmond.

“I was driving to work, and I think I did middays at that time, and Jonathan Brandmeier was interviewing Donny Osmond. And they were talking about child stars, and Johnny asks him, ‘What about Bonaduce? Do you think you could beat up Danny Bonaduce?’ And Donny said, ‘Yeah, I think I could.’ And I was thinking, ‘Oh boy, he doesn’t know me at all. I’d go over there and burn his house down.’ By the time I got to work, this thing was on.”

“I want to be very clear about this. Donny did a real good job. He feels like he won that fight. It wasn’t a clear enough victory for me to say that wasn’t the case, but the judges gave the belt to me. I thought he did great. But here’s the thing. I should have killed him. I was really drunk, and I walked into the ring smoking a cigarette, and I had these girls taking the cigarette in and out of my mouth because I had boxing gloves on. I walked in talking tough, but Donny did really well. So, after that, I started training like a boxer. I didn’t get money for fighting Donny, but everyone started calling, offering me thousands to fight, like, the weatherman in Nebraska. I was 10-0 in those ‘celebrity’ fights.”

One of those fights was nationally televised.

“I beat Greg Brady (Barry Williams) on Fox. That poor guy. It wasn’t a sanctioned fight, so they kept throwing him in there for more. By the end of that fight, he didn’t know where he was anymore.”

Danny may have settled down a bit in laid back Seattle, but Chicago will always be in his heart.

“I would come back to Chicago in an instant! They really adopted me. I consider it my hometown. I had the best years of my life in Chicago.”

– Rick Kaempfer

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